Prospecting the Prospects: Max Aarons

Our “prospecting the prospects” series returns for 2019-20!

This is where we run the rule over the of FPL prospects of some who will enter the game next season. This series analyses a selection of these newcomers to the FPL game by simulating how they would have performed using last season’s stats (wherever they played) as if they had been in FPL, then providing our evaluation of the player as an asset ahead of the coming campaign.

We’ve already done Daniel James, Teemu Pukki, Jack Grealish, Pablo Fornals, Christian Pulisic and Che Adams so far this season, with many more to come.

Norwich City were promoted to the Premier League having won the Championship in 18/19

For FPL managers, one thing however was on their mind. Were there decent options within the Norwich team that would have potential as future stars of FPL?

One young player that has been heavily touted as a future star is their right back Max Aarons.

At only 19 years old, this was his first campaign as a professional footballer and he instantly made an impression, being awarded the EFL young player of the year and linked with big money moves to the likes of Tottenham Hotspur.

How well did he actually do last season though if he had been performing in the Premier League?

As usual we have calculated this using WhoScored data and match reports. FFS data is used in the evaluation.

Prospecting the Prospects

Appearances: 41 appearances (All over 60 mins, 41×2) = 82 points

Goals: 2 goals (2×6) = 12 points

Assists: 6 assists (6×3) = 18 points

Clean Sheets: 12 cs (12×4) = 48 points

Disciplinary: 8 yellow cards: -8 points

Times conceded more than 2 goals: 10 = -10 points

Times conceded more than 4 goals 1 = -1 point

Raw point total: 141

Bonus (n.b. skippable – just a record to show I haven’t made it up)

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To give an estimation of the bonus points he would have got, we’ve reviewed the games he would have delivered points in to come to a rough number.

We’ve done this by researching match performance and allocating probable bonus depending on how well he did.

Attacking contributions:

25th August, 4-0 win v Sheffield Wednesday: Assisted the 3rd goal and picked up a clean sheet. Pukki got a brace in this game, so lets say Max would have secured 2

24th November 4-1 win v Swansea: Picked up an assist but no clean sheet. He also got a yellow card in this game so would have possibly fallen out the bonus 0

1st December 3-1 win v Rotherham: His first goal for the club but no clean sheet. Pukki picked up a goal and an assist, as did Todd Cantwell, so probably just the 1

8th December 3-2 win v Bolton: Having conceded twice and this being a high scoring game, despite picking up an assist we’ll be conservative and say 0

15th December 2-2 draw v Bristol City: A goal for Aarons in this game so would have likely picked up at least 1

26th January 2-2 draw v Sheffield United: Another high scoring game, despite the assist he conceded two goals so probably a

23rd February 3-2 win v Bristol City: Fellow defender Ben Godfrey got on the scoresheet and Kenny McLean picked up a brace so with only an assist to his name, because of the victory let’s give Max 1

6th April 4-0 win v QPR: A decisive victory for Norwich in this game. A tough one to call, Pukki got a brace, Buendia got a goal and an assist but also got sent off. An assist and a clean sheet means that Max deserves at least 1

Guesstimated bonus from G/A: 6

Remaining Clean Sheets:

Already assessed 2/12 of the cleanies.

For brevity, allocating a further 8 bonus from examining performances in these games. Looked through who had scored etc and the bulk of these bonus points would have come in the closer games/0-0s (e.g. given the star man in the 1-0 win over QPR on 22nd September )

Total guesstimated bonus = 14

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Scores on the doors

That gives Max Aarons a return over the course of the season of 155 points which calculates at 3.78 points per game

Over the course of a 38 game season in the Premier League that would be 144 points in total.

A decent return for a defender for sure, ranking him joint 11th in the position, matching the return of Matt Doherty and 4 more points than Patrick van Aanholt.

Evaluation

A very decent return, especially for a player in their maiden season in professional football, receiving the EFL young player of the year and Championship team of the year. But can we expect Max returns? There really is the potential for next season for Aarons to press on and be a star in the making.

Aarons had more attacking returns than fellow young full back Jamal Lewis on the opposite flank and also better underlying stats overall. Both cost 4.5m, so it looks like Aarons will get the nods if managers are looking for a Norwich defender at any point in the season.

In terms of underlying stats Max took 24 shots, 18 of which were inside the box, 8 on target and also created 31 chances. This puts him right up there in terms of top attacking defenders. Sead Kolasinac managed the same amount of chances picking up 5 assists, as did Jonny (1 assist). His attacking stats are also comparable to Ricardo Pereira from Leicester who managed 25 goal attempts, 14 inside the box, 9 on target and picked up 2 goals to his name en route to 146 points.

We know, however, that the step up to the Premier League is tough; many who having performed well for promoted teams have failed to adjust to the pace of the Premier League despite being hyped by FPL managers for their potential.

We have also often seen FPL towers get overexcited about new talent making their step up and price accordingly with key men from Championship clubs. Luckily, Aarons avoided this, but it’s always worth looking at these Championship shining stars in the back line and the cautionary tale of how they waned as they tried to make the step up. We have tended to see that star defender from the promoted sides priced at 5.0m and they’ve normally failed. Examples of this are Tommy Smith (50 points from 1 assist) at Huddersfield after 4 goals and 10 assists the year before in the Championship, or Joe Bryan (52 points, 1 assist) for Fulham after 5 goals an 3 assists for Bristol City.

Last season, we were very lucky with Matt Doherty and the Wolves defence as the 5.0m man Barry Douglas was shipped off early. The Irishman will now set you back £6.0m last season, and was the shining star for much of last season in the bargain bucket. 4 goals, 7 assists and 144 points for “Doc” saw him earn FPL darling status, especially with many of us picking him up early at 4.4m. Given the differences between Wolves and Norwich – formation, style, and money to spend come to mind as factors – this may be too much to hope for from the young Canaries full back. But a 4.5m defender does always emerge somewhere – why not young Max?

Finally, Andrew Robertson may on paper look an aspirational name to throw in, but his experience at Hull is nothing too inspiring to follow. In 16/17, after a brilliant campaign in the Championship where he managed 3 goals and 4 assists, Robertson only managed the 2 assists and 45 points at a 4.5m valuation – a far cry from the FPL monster he is today.

Whilst Aarons can aspire to be like latter-day Robertson, who has since made a case for being one of the best full backs in Europe, this campaign may be one too early for him in terms of carving out a Premier League career. Instead, the young, learning Robertson of old may unfortunately be a good template for Aarons. Norwich having Liverpool GW1, Chelsea GW3, Man City GW5 also reinforces the need for patience.

At 4.5m, he could certainly be one to watch – however, it’ll remain to be seen if Aarons is even at Norwich come Gamewek 1, which may further moderate our view of the young full back. If he ends up at Crystal Palace, newly flush with Aaron Wan Bissaka money, then things could be more interesting if he’s given licence to roam forward akin to Patrick van Aanholt on the left. If he ends up somewhere like Spurs, though, I suspect it may kill him as an FPL asset as he’ll no doubt have to settle for a rotation role, but obviously things can change in the transfer window.

Nonetheless for now I’m a bit muted on his prospects given his newly promoted status currently with Norwich, which I need to judge him on. I’ve been burnt on multiple occasions with those kinds of players as early punts. So, it’s a perhaps harsh rating – but there is always room for surprise.

Overall rating: 2 / 5 – An below average prospect for FPL*

*derived from a completely subjective scale from 1-5, where 1 is bad and 5 is excellent

Disclaimer: we thoroughly accept this system of evaluating players isn’t flawless. Predicting how well a player will do is an inexact science, and there are many ways to do it. However, we feel that it’s a nice approach to getting a feel for how a player might do in FPL.